Pennsylvania School District Apologizes For Threatening To Put Children In Foster Care Over Unpaid Lunch Debt
A school district in Pennsylvania apologized this week after sending a letter to parents earlier in the month threatening to place children in foster care if school lunch debts went unpaid, according to NPR.
The Wyoming Valley West School District in Pennsylvania also said it decided to accept a donation in the amount of $22,000 from a local CEO who offered to pay off the outstanding lunch debt. As NPR noted, the district had previously refused to accept donations to pay for the school lunches.
Per a previous report from The Inquisitr, the Pennsylvania school district sent letters to about 40 parents threatening to take them to court, which could potentially result in placing their children in foster care unless the parents paid the students’ outstanding lunch debt.
As The Inquisitr noted, the letter faced harsh criticism for its tone. A person in charge of the school district’s federal programs agreed that the letter was “over the top and should not have been sent out.” The school board vice president said that he thought that the letter was “cringe worthy,” per The Inquisitr.
Data from Census Reporter showed that 14 percent of individuals in the school district’s boundaries lived at or below the poverty line, which is 10 percent higher than the rate in the rest of the state.
In an undated letter from the Pennsylvania school district, which is about three hours north of Philadelphia, the district apologized for the tone of its initial letter.
“It wasn’t the intention of the district to harm or inconvenience any of the families of our school district,” the letter said.
Todd Carmichael, CEO of Philadelphia-based La Colombe Coffee, offered pay late lunch bills of families that were threatened with foster care. https://t.co/roiQ2cpU66
— USA TODAY Money (@USATODAYmoney) July 23, 2019
The letter also outlined that the school board had decided to accept a donation by Todd Carmichael, who is the CEO of La Colombe Coffee Roasters in Philadelphia, per Heavy. According to Heavy, Carmichael said he was inspired to help because he received free lunches in school as a child.
Carmichael describes himself as an activist, and as Heavy notes, said he once was arrested as a college student for a protest in the ’80s he organized against South African apartheid.
The new letter from the district also said that it now qualified for the Community Eligibility Program, and that all students enrolled in the district’s schools would receive free breakfast and lunch for the next five years regardless of parent income.
Pennsylvania State Sen. Katie Muth, a Democrat, weighed in on Twitter on Tuesday prior to the school board’s reversal on Carmichael’s donation, and thanked him for his offer.
“Todd Carmichael understands the boost that services like food assistance had on his life and is trying to do his part to pay it forward,” Muth wrote in a series of tweets that culminated with her shaming the school board president for initially rejecting the offer to pay off the school debt.